Passion for local produce, contributions to the commoning community and young environmental champions inspiring others about the New Forest were the recipe for success at this year’s New Forest National Park Authority and CLA awards.
The awards recognise the best of the New Forest’s rural businesses, organisations, land managers and champions and were presented at a special ceremony at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show.
The prizes were handed over by National Parks Minister Lord Gardiner and National Park Authority Chief Executive Alison Barnes.
The winners of the 2019 awards were:
- Young Farmer/Commoner of the Year – Daisy Slocombe
- Best Supporter of Local Produce – Pilley Community Shop
- Sustainability Champion – Kathy Sirl, The Naked Pantry
- Young Environmental Champion – Dominik Reynolds
- Rural Diversification – Stephen and Wendy Maughan
- Land Management – Kevin and Fiona Gover.
Daisy Slocombe won Young Farmer/Commoner of the Year for her incredible work alongside the Commoners Defence Association. Daisy is the youngest member of the CDA committee at 19 years of age and sits on the Young Commoners committee. She is highly valued by other commoners and has put a huge effort into commoning over the past year, producing newsletters for all the Young Commoners to stay up to date. Daisy also takes part in every drift with the Agisters and goes into local schools with fellow local commoner Lyndsey Stride to educate children about the Forest.
This year’s Best Supporter of Local Produce was Pilley Community Shop. Pilley Community Shop has supported New Forest Marque products since its opening, including Beaulieu Chocolate, Goodall Strawberries, Hatchett Beef, Spout House Cakes and a small range of books by eight local authors. Caroline Darke manages the shop with help from local volunteers in the community.
The 2019 Sustainability Champion was Kathy Sirl, recognised for establishing The Naked Pantry in New Milton to help reduce the amount of single-use plastic used in the National Park. The Naked Pantry offers food and drink, skin care and beauty products, household and cleaning products, and has its own plant milk and nut butter processing machine. It also has a water refilling station and provides a place for products that are difficult to recycle to be collected, including crisp packets and toothpaste tubes.
New to 2019, the Young Environmental Champion award celebrates the achievements of young people under 25 years of age who are working to help protect the National Park and its wildlife. The award was won by 19-year-old Dominik Reynolds from Totton, who has been volunteering in the National Park since he was nine years old and thrives on learning, making a difference, and educating and enthusing others.
The winners of the Land Management award were Fiona and Kevin Gover, who have a small holding near Ringwood and have been bringing it up to modern standards for their small herd of cattle.
They have improved the land, put in appropriate housing and storage for the cattle and a few ponies, and have generally created a ‘traditional’ yet ‘modern day’ holding.
The winners of the Rural Diversification category were Stephen and Wendy Maughan, for their farm diversification project 'Forest Meats @ Manor Farm' in Bramshaw.
They have recently set up a cutting room and chiller unit at their farm, Manor Farm, with the help of a Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Leader grant. The couple are helping other farmers and commoners by storing and cutting their animals once back from the abattoir. It was this provision of a local facility for others to use which impressed the CLA judges.
Alison Barnes, Chief Executive of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘Incredibly, it is now our seventh year running these awards with the CLA and they have become a shining example of partnership working. It is now more important than ever to work with our partners across the country to secure funding and resources to ensure the New Forest continues to thrive for future generations.
‘I am delighted to see the new Young Environmental Champion category added this year to recognise how hard young people are working to protect and connect with nature. The inspiration of young people is arguably the most important thing that we can support to ensure the Forest is in safe hands for the future. This new category is in recognition of the 70th anniversary of National Parks, which is being marked nationwide through a Year of Green Action.’
CLA Acting Regional Director Tim Bamford said: ‘We had many excellent entries this year and all our winners are very deserving of their awards. While they may work in different roles and businesses, they all share real dedication and passion for what they do, and rural life in the New Forest is thriving because of people like them. Congratulations to them all.’
The awards are sponsored by Moore Blatch and supported by the New Forest Agricultural Show Society.